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Couple has history of mystery

After welcoming a young family into the Original Carrollwood community, neighbors are confused and angry to learn that the family disappeared when police began asking questions.

Within the close-knit confines of Carrollwood's oldest community, where residents tend to know and socialize with their neighbors, it is no surprise that so many came to know the young couple who moved into a home this spring on Sabal Road.

As newcomers to Original Carrollwood, Damian McCartney, 27, and Kimberly Boisvert, 32, were invited to social events and encouraged to attend meetings on community issues in this largely affluent neighborhood.

But aside from their exclusive mailing address, they had little else in common with their neighbors.

McCartney and Boisvert had no car; people would often see them walking in the brutal heat to and from the public bus stop with their 2- and 3-year-old sons. While Boisvert was a secretary in the Tampa city attorney's office, McCartney did not appear to be working, and described himself as a contractor.

"They seemed like they were down-on-your-luck typical American people," said Terry Taucher, who lived next door.

McCartney and Boisvert happened to land in Original Carrollwood through the charity of Boisvert's employer, Assistant City Attorney Jennifer Hernandez. McCartney told neighbors they had lost their home in Pinellas County because their landlord had failed to pay the mortgage. That's when Hernandez allowed them to stay in the home at 3004 Sabal Road where she had once lived with her husband, from whom she has since separated.

But two weeks ago, McCartney and Boisvert suddenly vanished without leaving a forwarding address. Boisvert, who was considered an exemplary city employee, also abandoned her job and has not tried to collect two paychecks she earned.

Former neighbors and Boisvert's longtime co-workers have since learned, through police investigators, an entirely different story about this mysterious family.

Bad checks, good story

When Boisvert applied for her job as a secretary in October 1998, she disclosed that she was on probation for writing worthless checks.

Her explanation, in a written statement, was that her roommate apparently had stolen her ATM card and emptied her checking account. "My husband and I were preparing to move to Pennsylvania to take care of his grandmother. We needed to get our car repaired before the trip and also other necessities," she wrote. She drew from the account and "I was not aware that there was a problem until we moved back to Florida after my husband's grandmother passed away."

Boisvert went on to write that she learned of outstanding warrants for her arrest when an officer stopped her for a broken tail light. "I was put on probation and ordered to pay restitution. Once probation is terminated, I plan to have the record expunged/sealed."

City Attorney Jim Palermo said he was satisfied with the explanation, which he termed "reasonable and logical."

But Boisvert failed to mention two other crimes she committed and the background check conducted by the city's personnel department failed to uncover them.

Records show Boisvert and McCartney were arrested on Sept. 5, 1992 after leaving an Olive Garden restaurant in Pinellas Park without paying a $150 food bill. She pleaded guilty on Oct. 26, 1992 and was ordered to pay $150 within 60 days.

While Boisvert explained her bad checks to Palermo by saying she bought food and other essential items for the Pennsylvania trip, records show that her offenses were against video and comic book stores, and they occurred several months apart.

A worthless check was written on Nov. 26, 1994 to Emerald City Comics and Collectibles in Seminole for $24.08. A warrant was issued for her arrest when she failed to appear in court. She was convicted on that worthless check charge on July 24, 1997.

Then again, in January 1995, Boisvert was charged with petty theft. In that case, she was ordered to pay $350 restitution to Mr. Flicks Video in Seminole.

"The only thing I was aware of in her history was one bad check," Palermo said.

"As it turned out," he added, "she was a very good secretary, very efficient." The city paid her $25,000 a year and her personnel record describes her as hardworking and personable.

"Kimberly is refreshingly easy to get along with," wrote Hernandez in an April evaluation. "I could not ask for better!. . . . Unprecedented!"

In return, Boisvert wrote, "I thoroughly enjoy working with Jennifer. I feel we have an excellent working relationship. Jennifer is a patient, understanding person/boss who has a lot to offer and I hope to learn from her every day."

After Boisvert was absent for three days without an excuse, Palermo said city policy required him to fire her, effective Aug. 2.

Lots of hard-luck stories

McCartney was long-winded. That's how next-door neighbor Barbara Stevens remembers him. That is also why Stevens avoided him.

It got so bad, Stevens said, McCartney would knock on the door and she would refuse to answer if her husband wasn't home, "because he would talk your ears off," she said. "Damian was over here a lot, avoiding creditors, talking to my husband, giving sad stories of how bad it was.".

Nobody had more hard-luck tales than McCartney, she said.

McCartney told neighbors he had been in the contracting business, but that someone stole all his money and so he wasn't in the contracting business any more.

Stevens said McCartney led them to believe he was undergoing chemotherapy for leukemia. One time she said he even asked them to take him to a chemotherapy session, but at the last minute, he didn't need the ride.

Stevens said they later found out from Detective Bill Todd, of the Tampa Police Department's criminal intelligence division, that McCartney does not have cancer.

"They were con artists," Stevens said. "He didn't have anything he said or did. None of it was true. But at the time, we had no reason to not believe him."

As much as McCartney talked, he never told neighbors about his criminal background.

In January 1995, he rented nine video games from Showdown Films and Video in Kenneth City, but never took them back. The home number he provided the store had been disconnected. The work number on his rental membership application was bogus.

For that crime, McCartney was convicted of grand theft. He was sentenced in January 1998 to 18 months probation and ordered to pay restitution of $320. A warrant was issued for his arrest in July when he violated that probation by failing to pay restitution.

While on probation, McCartney was charged with 10 counts of writing worthless checks to various grocery stores in Pinellas County early this year. He was scheduled to appear in court for arraignment on those charges Thursday. Another warrant for his arrest was issued when he failed to show up for that hearing.

Repairs for rent

While they lived in Original Carrollwood, McCartney and Boisvert took part in the community's social and civic activities, neighbors said.

According to neighbor Elizabeth Hapner, the couple attended the neighborhood Fourth of July party at White Sands Beach, participated in a meeting about a controversial wall on Sabal Road and were often seen mingling at area yard sales with their two sons.

"All they said was that they moved from the beach, but didn't say what beach," Hapner said. "He said he was a contractor and he was going to do all this wonderful remodeling on the house they were staying in."

There is no record of McCartney holding a contractor's license in this state, but he claimed to be handy at making home repairs. Hernandez and her husband had started some repairs to their house before their marriage broke apart. According to Palermo, McCartney had agreed to finish the repairs in lieu of rent.

Palermo said that while the couple was living in the house, various mail, including credit card solicitations, continued to be sent there for Hernandez and her husband. Palermo said it is his understanding that someone at the house might have used the solicitations to apply for credit.

Tampa police investigator Todd confirmed that there is an active investigation involving McCartney and Boisvert, but declined further comment. Hernandez also declined to comment.

Stevens said Todd has told her that the couple is suspected of applying for credit cards in response to solicitations that had come to the Hernandez home. Steven said that might explain how they managed to obtained a car shortly before they left the neighborhood.

"He (Todd) said they got mail for credit cards and they signed them, got the cards and used them," Stevens said referring to her conversation with Todd.

Neighbors now hearing these developments are outraged.

"I thought they were nice people running into hard luck," Taucher. "They had people nice enough to help them out and then they turn around and defraud everyone."

The Tampa investigation began about the same time that the violation of probation warrant was issued for McCartney's arrest. Either one of those actions could have prompted the couple to abandon the house and Boisvert's stable job.

When they left, police discovered the house was not completely empty. McCartney and Boisvert also had abandoned their golden Labrador retriever named Rudy. The puppy was turned over to Hillsborough County Animal Control and has since been adopted.

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